Grants support community projects to fight poverty
WASHINGTON (September 27, 2005)—The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) today announced the distribution of nearly $9 million to support local projects that work to eliminate the root causes of poverty in the United States. CCHD, the anti-poverty initiative of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, is one of the largest private funders of anti-poverty programs controlled by the poor.
An additional $150,000 will be committed for special grants of $50,000 each to three different community organizing networks: Pacific Institute of Community Organizations (PICO), the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). These funds will help these groups organize their members and congregations in the immediate relief effort and assist the victims of Hurricane Katrina plan for more intermediate steps toward long-term recovery.
Over the years, CCHD has provided grants totaling over $280 million to more than 7,000 projects designed to attack the root causes of poverty.
According to Timothy Collins, CCHD interim executive director, "In the most recent Poverty Pulse national poll commissioned by CCHD, the poor themselves said their top concerns were unemployment/wages, access to health care and education, and discrimination.—conditions that most Americans take for granted."
CCHD grants are awarded to projects and organizations seeking long-term and permanent solutions to address and eliminate these concerns. This year's grants will fund 315 local projects in 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. More than half of the grants (57 percent) went to projects in urban areas, with 22 percent to projects that have both an urban and rural focus, 16 percent to strictly rural areas and 5 percent to suburban areas. "The grants are awarded on a local basis--without regard to race or religion--because local organizations are in the best position to assess and resolve local needs," Collins said. "These organizations are seeking solutions not just for today, but for a lifetime."
Funds distributed by CCHD come from individual Catholics who donate to a nationwide church collection each year, usually in the fall. One quarter of the local collection stays in the diocese in which the donation was made and the remainder is distributed nationally according to need. For the last several years, CCHD annual grants have been in the $9 million to $10 million range. Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., chairman of the CCHD committee for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said, "While those amounts acknowledge the generosity of the thousands who donate each year, the fact that we are able to fund only 71 percent of the requests, and an even lower 49 percent of the requested dollars, speaks to the enormity of the problems faced by the poor across this nation."
Bishop Hubbard cited an August 2005 Census Bureau report noting that poverty rose for the fourth consecutive year, to 12.7 percent, and that most of the increases this year occurred among the working poor. "Without the safety net provided by safe and adequate housing, reliable transportation, functioning schools, steady employment and dependable health care, even more people will slip into an intolerable existence," he said.
Established 35 years ago in 1970 by the U.S. Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is one of the largest private funders of self-help programs initiated and led by poor people in the United States. Committed to the permanent elimination of poverty and injustice in the U.S., CCHD supports projects nationwide that know no racial or religious boundaries - projects that help create jobs, improve neighborhoods and allow people to find a way out of poverty.
Note to Editors: In this 2005 funding cycle Hawaii, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands did not receive grants. If you would like specific information about funded projects in your state or diocese, contact Barbara Stephenson in the CCHD media office, 202-541-3364 or firstname.lastname@example.org . You may also want to contact CCHD's Diocesan Director in your diocese for more information; a complete listing of directors may be found at our web site: http://www.usccb.org/cchd/director.shtml
The following dozen representative projects provide an insight into CCHD's work:
Riders of Vermont (RoVer) of Montpelier, Vermont, is a member-led organization of state residents who do not have access to affordable transit. It will use a $30,000 grant to continue organizing teams in communities throughout the state to empower users of public and community transportation to improve transit systems. People who traditionally have been left out of transportation decisions will become advocates through leadership training and collective action.
The Merrimack Valley Project (MVP) in Lawrence, Massachusetts, received a $25,000 grant to continue their campaign to promote affordable housing and expand permanent work opportunities for 1,500 immigrant temporary workers in the region. MVP was organized in 1989 by ten religious, labor and community organizations to deal with plant closings, loss of affordable housing and decline of public services.
The Vietnamese American Initiative for Development in Dorchester, Massachusetts, received a $35,000 grant to expand Win-Win Cleaning, a worker-owned office cleaning business. The business provides marketing, billing and accounting services to members while separate micro-enterprises perform cleaning work.
The Maryland Chapter of American Home Day Care Workers in Baltimore, Maryland, received a $20,000 grant to recruit 1,000 new home day care providers and to work for reforms in the policies and practices that impact workers lives. Day care workers are some of the lowest paid, hardest working citizens in the state. They frequently face late payments and lack of health insurance for themselves.
Citizens Against Loan Sharks in Cincinnati, Ohio, received a $30,000 grant to recruit members, train leaders and monitor loan programs. The anti-predatory lending task force organizes neighborhoods and victims of predatory lending to decrease the number of foreclosures by developing better loan products, repairing exploitative loans and advocating for anti-predatory lending loans.
The Mental Health Equality Initiative of the Senior Advocacy Teams in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, received a $25,000 grant to work toward establishing accessible, affordable, comprehensive and permanent mental health services for older adults. It will work to ensure that funds are spent to improve services for older adults in a manner that preserves the patient's dignity.
People of Hope in Athens, Georgia, is a grassroots effort to create the first resident-controlled manufactured housing community to accommodate 40 resident-owned mobile homes on land owned by the community. The group purchased the land and a $40,000 grant will enable them to offer skills training, raise funds for park development and offer housing counseling classes.
The Power U Center for Social Change in Miami, Florida, received a $25,000 grant to continue efforts to improve the quality of two at-risk public schools through parent, student and resident involvement, with special attention to issues that affect new immigrants and people of color. It also will organize to stop the dumping of toxic materials into a neighborhood creek and collaborate to determine the extent of the contamination's impact.
The Missouri Farmers Union of Jefferson City, Missouri, received a $35,000 grant to help revitalize rural communities by helping residents create sustainable, small-scale farming systems and local, community-based food processing and delivery systems. The organization will promote fair returns for farmers, fair wages for workers and wholesome food for consumers. It also will work to bring broadband Internet to rural areas.
The Native American Development Corporation of Billings, Montana, with other project partners, is developing the Whistling Water Coffee Shop and Training Center. The center received a $30,000 grant to help provide quality employment and hands-on training for at-risk minority youth between the ages of 16 and 24. Training will include development of leadership skills, entrepreneurship, business management and life skills.
Poder de la Mujer, a project of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, Texas, received a $35,000 grant to identify and support immigrant women in crisis. The center helps women work within legal, educational and health systems to ensure the quality and accessibility of services. Poder de la Mujer trains leaders to work in their own neighborhood to identify and contact women in crisis.
The Market Workers Justice Campaign of the Korean Immigrant Workers Advocates in Los Angeles, California, received a $35,000 grant to empower Korean laborers to address the root cause of injustice in their employment. Seven major Korean-owned supermarkets in the Koreatown section of the city employ more than 1,000 workers, most of them recent immigrants from Latin America and Korea. Most of the workers earn only minimum wage, work six days a week, do not receive health benefits and are subject to a harsh work environment.